In a decision announced today the Justices denied a stay requested by Governor Jerry Brown. Brown is fighting a ruling from a federal three-judge-panel that orders California to reduce its prison population by about 10,000 inmates by the end of the year. Three Justices voted to grant the stay.
Attorney Mike Bien represents inmates involved in the court case. He says the decision is significant because it appears the state was gambling everything on this stay.
“This was a very serious stay application,” he said. “They raised all their arguments. They filed hundreds of pages of documents. They used specially hired Supreme Court counsel at over a thousand dollars an hour to raise these arguments.”
In a statement, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Jeff Beard said the state will continue it's challenges to the release order.
“While California’s stay request was denied today, the state will pursue its appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court so that the merits of the case can be considered without delay,” he said.
A court ruled in 2009 that overcrowding in California’s prisons had created unconstitutional health conditions. Brown maintains the state has already reduced the prison population enough to address the problem. He says any further releases would jeopardize public safety.